11:33 PM CST on Saturday, December 25, 2010
By Cheryl Hall, Columnist, Dallas Morning News
Photo Credit: Jim Mahoney, DMN
Eric Devlin is more used to thinking on his feet than planning six months out. But the president of Premier Transportation Services of Dallas has had to deal with parking and security issues, ramp up his chauffeur staff and triple the number of vehicles on hand to prepare for the Super Bowl onslaught.
"We'll probably run 125 to 140 vehicles during the five days before and two days after the Super Bowl," he says. "That week will probably produce between $200,000 and $250,000 on top of our regular business."
In the last six months, Premier has bought three Chevy Suburban XLTs and six Lincoln Town Cars from local dealerships and a 32-passenger minibus – spending $445,000 in anticipation of the Super Bowl and expectations of a continuing economic rebound. It has also leased more than 30 SUVs and vans from rental car companies. And two affiliated companies are bringing up their fleets from Houston and Austin to operate them under Premier's umbrella authority.
Premier has hired a dozen chauffeurs in the last two months. Devlin says he plans to keep them on because his mainstay business is so good. An additional 20 chauffeurs have been hired for that week. "They'll net, after taxes, about $20 an hour, 10 to 12 hours a day for five days," Devlin says. "They are off-duty policemen and firemen and people who are going to use their vacation time to drive for us."
He's actually happy that his bread-and-butter business will be slow. "We usually do 600 to 800 people a week in group conventions. Nobody will be in town for anything other than the Super Bowl. And luckily, our local corporate clients traveling to and from the airport will be diminished, so we won't have to choose whether to make this run or that one."
Six companies, including the Mars candy family, FedEx and Fox Broadcasting Co., have contracted for 15 to 30 cars per group for five days straight, 12 to 15 hours a day.
Devlin is a little worried about a last-minute crush from people who don't think they need to make reservations. "A day or two before the NBA All-Star Game, we had people for LeBron James , Shaquille O'Neal and Mary J. Blige, the singer, call us. It's amazing what comes out of the woodwork."